My next book is a stand-alone fantasy novel called Damsel In Distress. It tells the story of a young woman’s descent into abuse and climb back out of it, while finding herself in the middle of a legend about a sword and a demon. She’s an extraordinary person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for several years already, as she’s one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons characters.
Before I say anything else about it, I would like to be very clear that I have never been subject to abuse. This book is not remotely an autobiography being told through a fantasy lens. Sabetia is not a stand-in for me any more than any other character I write is. In order to portray her as accurately as possible, I did a fair amount of research into the subject.
With that out of the way, this is not a book strictly about abuse. It’s about deeper things than that. When I originally conceived Sabetia, what I wanted to play was a gentle healer who shied away from the violence inherent in a typical fantasy environment, despite being forced to participate in it. She went through three iterations before becoming who she is in this book, and I’m really happy with the results. Spending so much time with a character really does make a difference in the final result for a writing project.
The full cast includes several men, all of whom want Sabetia to be or do something for them. Her struggle is to find a way free of that and become her own person, a separate and distinct individual. Survival is also kind of a challenge when swords and demons and cruelty get involved. Perhaps the most entertaining character, though, is one of the other women, Evi. A scholar with a sunny disposition, short attention span, and near-eidetic memory, she’s charming and delightful – the type of character that tends to steal whatever scene she’s in. I was so taken with her that I’ve included a preface from her point of view:
The story contained herein is a fictionalization of my collected notes regarding the Sword of Kailesce (pronounced ‘Kī -less’). While I have done what I can to ensure the facts of this account are true, much liberty has been taken, especially with dialogue, some of which I do not remember taking place despite being there. Likewise, I cannot say with certainty what anyone felt at the time, nor can the author. Further, I find the characterization of myself to be entirely inaccurate. I do not ‘bounce’, and never have. I also do not fill the air with idle chatter for hours on end. ‘Prattle’, indeed.
In fairness, it is true that I do prefer books to men.
-Evi Narien, Archive of Ar-Toriess
The remainder of the book, aside from the prologue, is told in third person, from Sabetia’s point of view. I expect to release it in late February.